In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee.
- Isaiah 58:12
And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.
- Isaiah 61:4 And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations.
This is a little different post for me, so please bear with me.
You see, I've been bothered of late. It seems that many of the Apostolic "old guard", so to speak, are dying off. Those great men of God that have blazed the trail ahead of us have begun to be called home in, it seems to me, record numbers. In the last few weeks, many men of God have been called to their rewards. It has caused me to begin to look around and ask, "What now"?
Who among us that are left behind will begin to stand and take their place? Who will the God of heaven tap on the shoulder and begin to work through in these last and evil days?
Our world, indeed our country, is heading down a disastrous and slippery sinful slope! Entertainment is growing more and more ungodly. Homosexuality/lesbianism, lying, cheating, cohabiting (as opposed to marriage), crime, etc are becoming the new norm. People are leaving the God of their fathers behind in record numbers in favor of sinful lifestyles that were not permitted openly just a generation or two ago.
Worse, the church in America seems to be at a total loss of how to deal with it. What are we to do? How do we stand against the rising tide of evil in our nation and world? One things for sure: business as usual isn't cutting it! We've got to make some changes in order to begin to reach this lost and undone generation we live in!
I had a dream last night that I cannot shake and don't totally understand. What I write now will be the dream and any thoughts that God gives me along the way as I write:
I was in a church (not the one I currently attend). It was a huge building. The colors were dazzling. The furnishings ornate. The choir loft was larger than many church buildings I've seen. The chairs on the large platform bore soft, velvety cushions and fancy decorative carvings. Especially the center chair that was reserved for "the pastor".
The reason I was there was two-fold. 1) My family and I had recently begun attending there at the request of the old pastor. 2) The pastor had recently died and the church body were gathering for his funeral.
I was struck by the lack of people there in the massive facility. A building that had a capacity to hold thousands, held just a mere handful of people. The thought in the dream was that this was a normal crowd. The days where this place was near capacity were long forgotten "glory days". The world that numbers billions had slowly began to ignore the old church with her "old fashioned ways".
I remember passing a note to someone there. An Usher? A church board member? I'm not sure. I never saw anyone's face or noticed how they were dressed. In the note, I simply said, "We'll be glad to help anyway we are needed." When I passed the note, I was sitting in the pews with the few mourners.
The dream skips some time. Now I am "the pastor" of this huge, but largely empty facility. (Again, this is the dream, not my desire) I am way up in the side balcony looking down on the platform area. I am praying as I pace back and forth- pouring my heart out to God and asking what needs to change. Asking him how we can get the attention of the population at large that ignores this building.
He seems to draw my attention to the "pastor's chair" and says "you need to begin there and make changes to the structure. Go back to my word and reorganize according to what I will show you there."
At this point, I awakened.
Now, here are my thoughts on this so far. Any thoughts you have and wish to share, please do.
1) We, as a movement, have turned our focus away from "the people business" we are called to be in. In it's place, we have placed our focus on prosperity. The prosperity of the people, the ministry, and "the church". This prosperity is not measured by the spirituality of the people, but is measured by the money and wealth of the people involved and the size of our church rolls and buildings. We have turned away from Peter's words and have begun to "suppos(e) that gain is godliness".
We build bigger and fancier edifices "to the glory of God". We have the best choirs, wearing the best robes, using the best instruments, and best equipment. We buy church vans, ostensibly to pick up "the lost", but really because we want to BE SEEN as caring for the lost. We build all the trappings to "look the part", yet when a family with a real need shows up, all we tend to do is give them some stale food and tell them, "We'll pray for you- God will make a way".
2) Our organization needs to change. Rather than the "single pastor" system we have become accustomed to, the early church seemed to lead congregations by "Elderships"- a team of elders. It's not a one man show. It's Godly men working and praying together to accomplish the will of God.
3) We need to focus on meeting the needs of sinner and saint alike. Everyone needs a real helping hand sometimes. How many folks could we win to the Lord, if we'd open up our pockets and hearts to their needs? How many folks could we keep if we focused on the needs of people rather than on the monetary needs of the facilities we populate?
4) The early church went from house to house breaking bread, the Lord adding daily such as would be saved. We need organized home study groups that will take the word of the Lord to the peoples homes, not just expect them to show up at church.
5) We do NOT need to compromise our beliefs or our holiness in order to win the lost. We do NOT become socially relevant again by giving in to the sinful ways of our culture at large. We become relevant again by standing firm in Jesus and holding out his love and life to the world.
It is God's plan to raise up a people who will shine forth his light. He desires us to live in a way that will draw folks to him, without compromising his truth.
Preach and teach the plan of salvation (Acts 2:38). Preach holiness AND forgiveness. Preach judgement AND mercy. Hold fast to ALL the principles of scripture. LIVE them to a lost and dying world. Only in this way will we see the prophesied end time harvest come to pass!
To quote and old song called "Mirror in me" (by John Chisum)- let this song be the prayer of the church of the living God:
"Mirror in me your love. Mirror in me your glory.
Reflecting in my every day, your gentleness and mercy.
Mirror in me your grace. Mirror in me compassion.
Conforming me to your image, Lord, as I gaze on you.
So fill my hand with your hands. Fill my feet with your feet.
Speak the words that I should say. Live your life through me.
Fill my mind with your mind. Fill my soul with your soul.
Show me all you really are- till I overflow."